But as the fight for sales became fiercer, we needed to be bigger and bolder. The pictures became more outrageous (“First time topless!”), the volume higher (“100 Real Girls’ Breasts!”), the spin more novel (“Real girls in the bath!”). I once ran a brainstorm simply titled “New ways to do breasts”. A meeting in which I, and several educated, brilliant men, sat around, scratching our heads trying to “spin” boobs. I walked out of the room with “BUMS??” written in my notebook, believing we’d had an anatomy epiphany, only to be told that bums didn’t sell.
I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. We went right into the young man’s stomping ground – bars and nightclubs – to take pictures of girls flashing. One windy Monday night in Kingston, I approached a girl to ask if she’d like to be photographed for Nuts. She nodded, put her hands up her skirt and started to pull down her knickers. I stopped her, horrified, and tried to tactfully explain that she didn’t need to bare her vagina to get into the magazine.
Ever had a job where you were asked to do things that didn’t feel right to you, but you did them anyway because you had to earn some money, and thought if you stuck around long enough, you could turn things around? Four women who worked at “lad” magazines like Nuts, FHM, and Loaded tell the Guardian how they made their often “stomach-churning” jobs into positions that gave their careers a boost. Some have regrets about perpetuating a culture that objectified women, while others say it’s all part of doing business. As one lady editor puts it: “I was more organised than the men, more efficient. I’m not sure my career would have progressed so quickly from a women’s glossy.”